Cyber isn’t just the future – it’s the present

The Means Report: Cyber Isn't Just The Future - It's The Present graphic
The Means Report: Cyber Isn’t Just The Future – It’s The Present graphic

Augusta, GA (WJBF) —  The world of cyber and what it holds as far as the future of the CSRA AKA the Cyber District. Are we a Cyber Hub yet? Will we get there? If so, how? What about our workforce? Are we ready to fill all of those thousands and thousands of jobs that are already available. And what about the role of our own educational institution that is Augusta University? Playing a key role as we speak in keeping that workforce strong and making sure that the candidates are there to qualify for those jobs.

Brad Means – Let’s talk all things cyber, beginning with our first guest from Augusta University. He is Dr. William Hatcher. Dr. Hatcher is the Director of the Master of Public Administration program at AU and Dr. Hatcher, thank you for being here.

Dr. William Hatcher – Thanks for having me, Brad. I’m really excited to be here and talk about the growth in the cyber industry that’s going on in Augusta metro area.

Brad Means – Well, I think first of all, so many people see this growth as something that’s about to happen. Or that’s coming down the pike. You’re sayin’ we’re there now.

Dr. William Hatcher – We’re there now. It’s happening. It’s happened and coming down the pike, we’re gonna make history. It’s gonna be a large scale change for the Augusta metro area with the cyber growth that we’re projecting through our study.

Brad Means – Well, I wanna get into what you kinda foresee when it comes to the future of Augusta and the surrounding areas, but first tell me about public administration. If someone graduates with a degree in that, what do they get to manage or oversee when they get out?

Dr. William Hatcher – A lot of stuff. They get to do a lot of stuff. Our degree’s very versatile. You can do a lot with an MPA today, a Masters of Public Administration degree. Of course, the degree’s geared toward training folks to be managers in the nonprofit world, the public sector. Our graduates go to work for local government, state government, sometimes the federal government but it’s a degree that’s gonna train you to be a manager in local government, state government, the national government, and nonprofits. We have a nonprofit certificate with our Master of Public Administration because the Augusta metro area has one of the largest concentrations of nonprofits in the nation.

Brad Means – Boy, it sure does. One on every corner, it seems.

Dr. William Hatcher – There’s a lot of ’em. I have a list in my desk and it’s pretty, it’s pretty high. The, so, and a lot of our students go to work for nonprofits. A lot of ’em already work in nonprofits and local governments in the area. Nationwide though, about 20% of graduates of the MPA programs go to work for the private sector. So, it’s a very versatile degree. A good way to think of it is is the MBA for the public sector, but more and more we’re seeing private sector companies wanting people that understand government and understand management, and that’s what we train ’em to do.

Brad Means – Alright, so you launched this study a few weeks ago, now gettin’ on a few months ago, and tryin’ to determine where Augusta stands when it comes to cyber. Tell me just kind of in headline type terms, what you learned about where we stand and what some of the criteria were.

Dr. William Hatcher – Yeah, we learned three things. Three main takeaways from the study. We learned in many ways, we looked at what the cyber security, IT jobs, information technology jobs were in the area right now. And in many ways, we learned like you mentioned earlier that we are a cyber hub already. We have about 12,000 cyber security, IT, information technology jobs in the Augusta metro area.

Brad Means – Right now?

Dr. William Hatcher – Right now.

Brad Means – Most at Fort Gordon?

Dr. William Hatcher – Most of those at Fort Gordon right now, about 9,000 are at Fort Gordon, and about 3,000 out in the community. But that’s what the second takeaway, what was really interesting we found is we followed up with a survey to about 300 local organizations asking nonprofits, local governments, businesses asking them, “What were your cyber security jobs now “and how many jobs are you gonna have “in the next five years?” And we found that the growth is gonna be about 168% and that translates into about 4,000 cyber security jobs outside of Fort Gordon.

Brad Means – Wow.

Dr. William Hatcher – And those are high paying jobs, Brad. Those are jobs that are gonna be about $100,000, so that’s gonna be about a half billion dollar impact on the salary for the community.

Brad Means – Are you talkin’ about you graduate from college and start at 100 or are you talkin’ about somebody who has experience in that field?

Dr. William Hatcher – Usually experience. It’s across the board, that’s the average, salaries around 90,000 nationwide for cyber security professionals. So, it’s across the board. It’s people that have years and years of experience but coming right out of college, they’re really high paying jobs in the tech industry. The new tech, cyber security industry.

Brad Means – I don’t want to take you outside of your comfort zone because I know you’re not in the cyber field, per se, but you are learning a ton about it in your job. What kind of positions are these? I think a lot of our viewers, would probably when you say cyber say, “Okay, “that’s someone at a computer.” Passed that, what do they do?

Dr. William Hatcher – That’s the same thing I thought at first. I had about a semester of computer science training as an undergrad so I know just enough to be dangerous. The jobs we are looking at about the 12,000 number in the Augusta metro area right now, those are a lot of different types of jobs. From people that work in help desks, IT support, all the way to people that are doing hard, serious cyber security protection. So it’s a large variety of jobs. When we talk about the cyber security jobs in particular, that’s usually somebody that spends about 50% or more of their time making sure that organizations are secure and fighting off threats from cyber security attacks.

Brad Means – What are you seeing at Augusta University, as far as the level of the interest from students since the launch, not only of your cyber curriculum at first, and then subsequently the construction of your cyber institute. More and more people want this?

Dr. William Hatcher – They do. It’s exciting. That’s why it’s the kind of third takeaway from the study that we’re making history is that when we asked local organizations, “What do you need, and what kinda, you know, “if you’re gonna hire these folks “in the cyber security world, what do they need?” And most of ’em said they need at least a bachelors degree in IT, information technology, cyber security, and with the growth of those types of programs at Augusta University, we’re gonna be a center for servicing this overall growth in our cyber security industry in the area.

Brad Means – Alright, we’re at a time when a lot of people have just gone off to college and a lot of parents are wondering, you know, how you kind of make sure your child is ready for his or her best future. What can we do with our young people and along the same lines, what’s Augusta University’s role or interaction with younger people? High school, middle school?

Dr. William Hatcher – Yeah, I think our role at Augusta University is to help create these pipelines where people that are coming up in the community, even back to middle school are coming up and have pipelines to go through middle school, high school, come to Augusta University and then contribute to our local community working these cyber security jobs.

Brad Means – Do we tell our kids, pay attention in computer science? You know, you mentioned your one course in college. I had the same thing. Do we tell them, “Hey, you trust us. “You need to get into computers.”

Dr. William Hatcher – Yes. If they wanna go this route, they need to get into computers beyond what they’re already into. Get into math, it’s very math heavy, it’s a very math heavy field.

Brad Means – Alright, math.

Dr. William Hatcher – But also, the growth in cyber security jobs is gonna affect the whole economy for the Augusta area. It’s gonna be more higher salary jobs that are gonna allow the Augusta community have folks that have more money to contribute to our local governments, more money to contribute to our nonprofits. People buying and restaurants, more restaurants in the area, more local businesses because of these jobs, it’s gonna have affect on the whole community.

Brad Means – Can you give us a feel for the kind of companies that have come here or if not, the kind of companies that might come here. Because again, we picture Fort Gordon and we picture cyber out there and we see this beautiful facility coming up out of the ground on Reynolds Street. What about the companies coming?

Dr. William Hatcher – That’s interesting. We’ve seen Unisys and some other companies already in the area. It’s gonna be companies like that, but also one thing from our study and while we’re doin’ it and gonna do it every year, is we’re gonna track the growth over time. Because we don’t capture the new companies coming in, ‘cuz we don’t know exactly what those new companies are gonna be. But they’re gonna be a lot of tech companies that are in cyber security but also tech companies that service the folks that work at Fort Gordon. And that’s part of being a hub, it compounds, it grows off of a particular field, a particular industry so it’s kind of big companies that are like Unisys that are in cyber security and information technology.

Brad Means – What’s your relationship with Fort Gordon? I know we talked a lot about what’s happening and what will happen outside those gates. How’s your relationship with our friends there?

Dr. William Hatcher – Well, you know, in our Master of Public Administration program we have a number of students that used to work in the armed services, that still do, so, but with our Cyber Institute and our new school, Augusta University has a really strong relationship with the fort. I’m not involved directly with that, but I know from hearing what’s going on is that they really work a lot with the fort and get information about how to adjust our programs to fit this growth.

Brad Means – Well, you don’t work with them a lot, this may be a bad question then and feel free to tell me if it’s outside of your area, but have politics come into play, at all? Does it matter who’s in charge when it comes to ensuring a bright future for Augusta and ensuring that our federal government buys into cyber?

Dr. William Hatcher – I think that’s lot of communities. Politics is always at play. I’m a political scientist by training but I like public administration because it’s not, I don’t have to study elections, ‘cuz that’s really hard to explain Economies are actually easier sometimes to explain. Like everything, politics is at play. One of the things that’s great when you have this kind of growth in a particular industry, specially a high paying industry like cyber in a community, it pushes people to come together and form compromises, ‘cuz we need to come together as a community to take advantage of this change that’s gonna happen.

Brad Means – Is there an age limit or an ideal age range to be successful at cyber?

Dr. William Hatcher – I don’t think so. I think it’s across the board. A lot of stuff we’re doing at Augusta University’s thinking about the next generation of folks coming through our University, but like in our MPA program, we train managers for the nonprofit public sector in all ages, all groups across the board. All different stages of their careers.

Brad Means – What do you think Augusta is gonna look like in a few years? Or how long will it take for Augusta to look like you’re gonna describe? And what are some of the sights and sounds we might notice around our town?

Dr. William Hatcher – I think we’re gonna have a lotta more restaurants, a lot more options and hopefully, from my perspective, economic development. We really like small businesses. Small businesses keep a lot of money locally that’s spent with ’em. So I think we’re gonna have a lot of small businesses. Our downtown is already startin’ to be revitalized and improving. I think that’s gonna really improve ‘cuz a lot of the millennials, a lot of creative class folks that work in these kind of jobs wanna live in downtown. We’re gonna see the metro area wide a lot of changes. We’re starting to see that already, like what’s goin’ on in North Augusta with Project Jackson where you have amenities and shops and restaurants and, you know, when it comes to economic development, the infrastructure, your roads and your school system, that really matters a lot. But professionals also care a lot about amenities. So we’re gonna see a lot more amenities, options in the area, we’re gonna see a lot more money for local nonprofits, for the tax dollars in the area with these salaries comin’ in.

Brad Means – What town or region might we resemble?

Dr. William Hatcher – Oh well, you know a lot of times people talk like we wanna be Greenville, especially when it comes to downtown development, but in a way we’re gonna be really unique. We’re gonna be, if we keep growing in this way that we’re thinking in what Fortune magazine described as is one of the cyber hubs for the world.

Brad Means – Yeah, like one of seven to one.

Dr. William Hatcher – One of seven, one of seven to watch. And we’re gonna really be a community that’s unique. We’re not gonna be necessarily just like Silicon Valley, but in a way it’s gonna be the cyber security hub for the Southeast and if you follow Fortune and some of the growth we’re seeing in the numbers a world player when it comes to cyber security.

Brad Means – Well, it’s exciting to be sure, and I sure hope you’ll come back as you continue to do studies and share the results with us.

Dr. William Hatcher – I’d love to, Brad. Especially, like I mentioned, next year we’re gonna do the survey again, and we’re hoping to see the continuation of the growth, and to figure out the question getting at what kind of new businesses are coming here, so I’d love to.

Brad Means – Boy, thank you, Dr. William Hatcher for painting that picture for us. We look forward to your return.

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Brad Means

The Means Report first aired in January of 2009 offering coverage that you cannot get from a daily newscast. Forget about quick soundbytes -- we deliver an in-depth perspective on the biggest stories. If they are making news on the local or national level, you will find them on the set of The Means Report. Hosted by WJBF NewsChannel 6 anchor, Brad Means, The Means Report covers the topics impacting your life, your town, your state, and your future.